NEW YORK – Carlsbad, California-based company Qualigen Therapeutics Wednesday announced that it had entered into an exclusive license agreement with the University of Louisville (UofL) for the intellectual property rights to UofL's RAS-F family of small molecule drug candidates under development.
The collection of investigational agents includes RAS oncogene protein-protein interaction inhibitor small molecules — that is, agents meant to block the binding of RAS to its effector proteins.
The licensing agreement follows a sponsorship agreement that Qualigen entered with UofL in April 2019. In accordance with that agreement, Qualigen assumed funding responsibility for UofL's development of RAS drug candidates from April 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020. Under the terms of the new licensing agreement, Qualigen plans to identify a lead drug candidate from the family of RAS inhibitors under development and will pay royalties to UofL on that product's net sales upon commercialization. Qualigen estimated that the royalty payment would be somewhere in the range of a low-to-mid single-digit percentage of net sales.
The drug candidates licensed to Qualigen are designed to treat cancers with mutations occurring in one of the three human RAS gene isoforms — KRAS, HRAS, or NRAS — which collectively occur in roughly a third of cancers and are particularly common in pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancers. Unlike many other attempts to treat RAS-mutated cancer, which have unsuccessfully sought to target downstream signaling of RAS, the small molecules under development at the UofL are designed to inhibit mutated RAS from binding to effector proteins.
"New strategies, such as the one we are developing, have recently emerged with the potential for success that may translate into significantly improved therapies and hope for patients with pancreatic, lung, colorectal, and other RAS-driven cancers who currently have limited treatment options," Qualigen Chairman and CEO Michael Poirier said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the University of Louisville and to advancing this important clinical program with the goal of developing an effective treatment for this unmet need."
In addition to this new licensing agreement for UofL's RAS-F small molecules, Qualigen has also entered into license agreements with UofL for AS1411, a DNA aptamer meant to treat COVID-19, and for ALAN, a technology that involves the AS1411 aptamer attached to a gold nanoparticle meant to target various types of cancer.